CLEVELAND (AP) — Bourbon Street had nothing on Cleveland's Euclid Avenue for three hours Nov. 13 during an all-star concert that paid tribute to Antoine “Fats” Domino and Dave Bartholomew, two trailblazing Rock and Roll Hall of Famers from New Orleans.
Domino couldn't make it but Bartholomew was there, along with Lloyd Price, Irma Thomas, Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack and other greats from The Big Easy. The show was the climax of the 15th annual American Music Masters series, presented by the Rock Hall and Case Western Reserve University.
In the 1950s, only Elvis Presley sold more records than ivory-tickling singer Domino and trumpet-playing bandleader and producer Bartholomew. They co-wrote dozens of hits, steeped in the multi-cultural rhythms and melodies of their home town, that kept jukeboxes rocking and rolling.
In a brief interview before the concert, Domino, 82, told The Plain Dealer he was grateful for all the fuss.
“I just don't travel too much anymore,” he said by phone from his home in Harvey, La. “I appreciate what they're doing, you know? Mmm hmmm. . . . It feels good.”
He sent his regards to fans.
“I can't thank them enough for what they've done for me,” he said.
A half-century after they first hit the scene, the same tunes made for an evening of great music.
Leave it to guest of honor Bartholomew to steal the show with masterful versions of Blues in B Flat, The Monkey (Speaks His Mind) and Tenderly. At 89, he still blows a mean horn.
Price, a Hall of Famer himself, did right by Ain't That a Shame and his own smash Lawdy Miss Clawdy. Thomas delivered a soulful take on Blueberry Hill. And the Dixie Cups — Barbara Hawkins, Rosa Hawkins and Athelgra Neville — brought three-part harmonies to bear on I'm Walkin', punctuated with a sax solo by former Domino/Bartholomew sideman Herb Hardesty.
Underscoring the international popularity of Domino and Bartholomew's music, Toots and the Maytals turned Let the Four Winds Blow into a fun reggae jam.
Actor Wendell Pierce from the HBO television series Treme emceed the show. Former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond spoke briefly, saying the music of Domino and Bartholomew integrated black and white audiences.
Members of Domino's family were on hand to accept the AMM award, including his grandchildren Eryn Hartzog and Chevis Brimmer.
Bartholomew said he was looking forward to sitting down with Domino to watch footage from the event.
“We're gonna pop some wine together,” Bartholomew said.
The show ended with the entire ensemble together for a joyful When the Saints Go Marching In, which started onstage but soon spilled into the aisles.
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com.
Photo by the Frank Bertacci collection. Hall of Famers: Antoine "Fats" Domino, left, and Dave Bartholomew confer in the recording studio in this undated photo.